Amazonian teen tests positive for coronavirus as fears for Indigenous communities grow

Seven cases of COVID-19 have now been confirmed across three states in the Amazon. Source: AAP

The 15-year-old's diagnosis brings the Amazon's COVID-19 count to seven, with local Indigenous leaders accusing unregulated miners of introducing the virus to their communities.

A Yanomami Indigenous boy has been diagnosed with COVID-19, sparking fears that the coronavirus is spreading throughout Indigenous communities in the Amazon.

The 15-year-old from the north-eastern Brazilian state of Roraima is the seventh Indigenous person to be diagnosed in the Amazon - all confirmed within the past week.

Brazil's Special Secretariat of Indigenous Health said the boy was admitted to an intensive care unit after he presented with shortness of breath, a fever, a sore throat and pain in his chest.

The boy reportedly travelled back to the 26,000-strong Yanomami reserve in the Amazon in March when his school halted classes due to the spread of the virus.  

The new diagnosis has ignited fears that Indigenous communities in the Amazon will not be able to withstand a significant outbreak of COVID-19.

Before any cases were confirmed, the Hutukara Yanomami Association warned that miners continuing to move through the rainforest posed a significant risk for Indigenous people.

"This is a major threat to our health. They have boats, helicopters and airplanes, and so they invade our lands without our authorisation, bringing disease and destruction to the forest land," the Association said in a statement.

"The authorities need to take urgent measures to prevent this illegal circulation."

Activists believe up to 20,000 unauthorised gold miners and prospectors are currently operating within the Yanomami reserve

In recent years the gold miners and threats to Yanomami life have returned. Activists say 20,000 illegal prospectors are currently laying waste to their preserve while Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, has vowed to allow commercial mining in such areas.

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